Asia

New India inquiry into Ishrat Jahan killing in Gujarat

This file photo taken on 18 June 2004 shows Shamima Kausar (second from left) collecting the body of her daughter Ishrat Jahan from a hospital in Ahmedabad
Image caption The report says the victims were actually killed before the date of the alleged clash

A court in India's Gujarat state has ordered federal police to take over the case of female student Ishrat Jahan and three others killed by police in 2004.

Gujarat police said they were part of a Pakistan-based militant group and were plotting to kill the chief minister.

But a court appointed panel found they were killed in a staged clash, commonly known as "fake encounter", a charge the police deny.

The court said Gujarat police could not be trusted in the case.

Human rights groups have repeatedly expressed concerns about so-called "fake encounters", in which security forces carry out killings that are later passed off as having occurred during violent clashes.

'Exceptional'

In issuing its order on Thursday for the Central Bureau of Investigation [CBI] take over the case, the Gujarat high court judge said that "the Ishrat Jehan case is exceptional and has national ramifications".

Last month, a three-member Special Investigation Team, headed by senior police officer Rajiv Ranjan Verma, submitted its report to the high court.

The report said that evidence suggested the four were killed before the date of the alleged clash on 15 June 2004.

The court told the investigating agency to lodge a fresh case and charge the policemen involved in the killings.

Nearly two dozen policemen, including several senior officials, were reported to be involved.

Gujarat police said those killed were members of the banned Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba and were involved in a plot to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

In 2009, another judicial probe into the incident blamed the police for staging the killings.

The inquiry named a senior Gujarat police officer, among others, in connection with the "cold-blooded murder" of the student and three others.

The probe said that police had "kidnapped" the student and three others in the city of Mumbai.

They were then taken to Ahmedabad, Gujarat's main city, and killed in "police custody", the probe said.

Ishrat Jahan's mother, Shamima Kausar, has always maintained her daughter's innocence.

Later, police in Mumbai said the student had no criminal background and had never been involved in any terrorist activity, as claimed by the police in Gujarat.

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